1. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    Help me brainstorm and get it right

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dannyboy, Mar 19, 2014.

    Hi All,

    My mind is filled with chaos, I'm unable to frame my story, if you can help me just understanding the synopsis put yourself in my shoes and give me an idea... Please

    My novel revolves around 3 friends on a Pilgrimage and they are in the 10th year of doing it Wayfaring to the shrine.
    So many things have happened and changed in the course of 9 years...

    Should I start the novel with the 1st year and then go from one year to another as most things would be repetitive every year except a few changes....

    Should I start with the 10th year's expectations and preparations or the 1st year's expectations and preparations as that was more interesting as it was the 1st time the Character is going to take up the pilgrimage?

    The pilgrimage has been happening for 33 years so should I involve the person who started this idea and now there are so many followers?

    What kind of plots and sub-plots do you think can be attractive?

    I know I'm asking too many questions its just that I'm stuck and just can move further, please help...

    Thanks in advance

    Daniel
     
  2. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Not to sound harsh, but couldn't you just decide for yourself what you think is best? I actually suggest, though, to include all those things you've seriously considered here (33 years before, recap of the 9 years etc.) and make them prologues or flashbacks. Then get rid of all the ideas of other possibilities, because you need to focus and actually write the story too. You could begin at the end of the nine years first and write in detail about their tenth trip, and then you can instead go back later and write the other parts if you decide you want to include them. It's your story, so whatever you decide is how it's going to be, and I'm confident you don't have to think for more than few more minutes on this and you'll know somewhere to start and how you could go from there, and then it's just a matter of writing step by step and taking everything you write into account as you move forward with your story. Good luck. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I'm a one novel pony. I'll give you my standard answer of what worked for me. I just started writing. I had half the chapters in my book (plus the once through write up with the story but not how I've finally executed it). I quit worrying about how I would structure the final thing. I stopped trying to write the perfect first chapter first. And it worked for me.

    Write first figure it out later, especially that first most important chapter with the hook. Never try to write that first, unless of course you are good at writing it first.
     
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  4. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    I know I'm screwing up some where and that I need an eye opener at this point. You rightly said its for me to decide but my point is I've decided to start the story with a preparation meeting among the 3 pilgrims and now they have new pilgrim who is going to join them, so they tell him how they prepared the first time over the conversations...

    Then as they start their 1st day of the pilgrimage of the 10th year something similar happens to the new pilgrim that happened to one of the older one during the 1st year and like wise their every day journey they speak about cultural changes and the outcome or benefits or so called miracles that they have witnessed and the new pilgrim is so happy to hear all this and they also discuss the knowledge they posses about how this all started and where is it today and finally want to end it some how... This is my thought will this work...

    Let me be honest, I have not been through any formal education or training on novel writing or creative writing, it is just that I'm interested...

    I would like to know the trick of the trade how do I attract the reader, How do I get them involved? How do I implement those rules of creative writing - Showing vs Telling, 1st person rules and so on?
     
  5. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    Hi Ginger

    This is what is my exact problem I'm not convinced with my 1st chapter I'm confused am I showing them what my character feels or am I telling them what my character feels? I'm writing this novel in 1st person as it is easy for me to get my ideas easily in as I'm one of the pilgrims but I get too explanatory and I feel everything is important.. This conscious editing or glance that I do doesn't allow me to move...
     
  6. Bjørnar Munkerud
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    Bjørnar Munkerud Contributing Member

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    Write what you would want to read. That's the only way to go about it. It's too difficult and time-consuming to write it any other way. What engages with this story? Is it the backstory? The romance? The trip? The conversations? The character development? Focus on them. Also don't be afraid to write first and then cut out all the stuff that doesn't fit or that you don't like as much in the end, at least until you get into a routine/rhythm.
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2015
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  7. Lae
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    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds familiar, might have been done before.

    Your idea in the second post sounds fine, do what ginger says and just write it down, in any format/fashion you want, then mould it into something afterwards.
     
  8. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Totally totally TOTALLY agree with Ginger here. If you can't think of how to structure the story at the moment, just write scenes as they occur to you. Things will eventually gel, and you'll see what works and what doesn't.

    The important thing is to write. Once you have some raw material (not just ideas) to work with, it will become much easier to decide what the beginning should be, who your good POV characters are, and how the story should progress.

    While those scenes are alive in your head, write them down.
     
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  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm with Ginger and jannert here. Don't think you have to sort out your structure or anything else right now. Your first draft does not have to be perfect - in fact, most first drafts are lousy. You're going to be revising and editing a lot after your first draft is done.

    Some famous writer - I forget who - said "The first draft is for finding out what your book is about." Treat it like that. Most, if not all, of your major creative decisions will be made in later drafts. So just write. Get your ideas down on paper. Get your story down. Get to know your characters in action. When you're done, you'll be able to look it all over and see what you've got. That's the point at which you can say, "You know, this really ought to start with Chapter Four. I need to move most of Chapter One and Two so they come after Chapter Five, and I have to get rid of Chapter Three altogether, except for that one cool scene ..." and so on. Take your first draft, rip it apart, rearrange it until it's the way you want it, then rewrite the whole darn thing in that order, if that's what's necessary.

    The point is, you don't have to make all these decisions before you start writing. You can make them later - much later. And if not being able to make these decisions now is stopping you from writing, it's imperative that you put them aside. Write first, sort it all out later. :)
     
  10. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    Thanks to all your inputs... very informative and motivating... I've already in the writing mode now. Unfortunately i'm not comfortable doing it on a computer, I just do it writing pen to paper and it takes a lot of time, but I love. I'm just gonna start writing what ever comes to my mind and complete the novel first not worrying about anything technical as you'll suggested.
     
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  11. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well said. The Squirrel rules...
     
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  12. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    You say that now... ;)

    If your experience turns out any way similarly to mine, once you start writing, you will start to see what's working and what isn't. What you don't want to do is realise way down the line you've given yourself an inordinate amount of editing and rewriting to do, so try and learn as you go. I found it helped to keep an overview but not to get too hung up on the 'novel'. I was trying to force the pieces to fit and was starting to think that each and every piece I wrote needed to be incorporated into the whole. Baby steps. Writing, whether used or discarded is never a waste for, often, failure can teach a valuable lesson if we can learn to identify where the problems lie.

    As for telling versus showing, I've had similar problems. I'm naturally a teller and have absolutely no problem with that. It's been said it's not a very modern approach and whilst I agree, I'm not completely sold on the more direct showing approach. Thing is, it does pay to be mindful of one's target readership, so my aim is to blend what comes naturally along with what readers find palatable.

    I've noticed that telling is reliant on the use of filter words. @Wreybies linked this article a while back and I found it very helpful when learning to differentiate between the two. Have a read and see if it helps put the matter into perspective. Then, when you sit down to write, use that knowledge and avoid the pitfalls. Eventually that avoidance will happen naturally. As with any 'rule', take it with a pinch of salt. Sometimes as writers we want to achieve an effect and, sometimes, this can involve changing focus, drawing the reader and the character away from the action. Using filters is one way to do this, so I'm definitely not espousing never using filters, but it does pay to be mindful of them if showing is what you are after.

    Filtering.
     
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  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Wow. Filtering. That's a cracking article, and I can already see myself wanting to apply its principle to my own writing. Thanks for posting this link.
     
  14. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    @jannert

    The link was originally posted by Wrey and I read it—didn't realise at the time just how significant it was until I looked back on what I'd written with it in mind. Filter-a-go-go, to put it mildly. ;) It was as if I was keeping a permanent distance between the reader and the characters. Not ideal. I do think that article expresses the idea well and the writer uses examples that clearly show the difference between one and t'other.
     
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  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Write your novel as you've conceptualized it. I suspect that a great deal of what you will write will be backstory, but at this point I would encourage you to write it anyway because it's material that you need to know. Once you have a completed first draft, put it away and go back and reread some of your favorite literary works, but not sit-back-and-enjoy reading. Pay attention to the point at which the author begins, how (s)he introduces the main character and other significant characters; at what point are you, the reader, placed into a conflict? Is it the main conflict of the story, or does it simply "set the table" for the main conflict to come? How much backstory is filled in after the story begins, and when and how does the author do that? Does the way in which the author treats all these elements resonate with you? If so, how does your story compare in terms of how you did it? How does one literary work compare with others? Which methods did you like best? Which did you like least? Why?

    Then, go back and begin editing. And if you really have written mostly backstory, don't be afraid to start fresh. It's a process.

    There are also a number of books on the market on writing fiction (and at some point, this thread may be joined by a vigorous proponent of some of them). If you decide to consult some, keep in mind that you'll still have to go back and look to see how those ideas have been utilized in quality fiction, and the extent to which they haven't, because we all bring our own predilections to our writing, including writers about writing.
     
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  16. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    So let me see. You don't know where to begin. That says you're not all that certain of how to organize, present, and structure your story. So let me pose a situation and a question:

    At the moment you don't know what a publisher looks for, and doesn't like to see in a story. You're not all that certain of the meaning of terms like scene-goal, POV, etc. You're not certain of what information a reader needs and doesn't need in order to have context.

    So that's the situation. Here's the question: what's the probability that you're going to guess right on every the first time and produce a story that needs only a bit of editing? And a related question: would it not make some sense to dig out some of the basics of presentation, and the new writer traps to avoid? It doesn't make sense to spend the time it takes to write a novel only to learn that you've inadvertently made an easy to avoid mistake that's going to cost you as much time to fix as it took to write.

    Like any other profession there's a lot to it that's not obvious, so spending a week or two making yourself ready will have two effects. First, it will save you the time you would waste writing something that sucks because you didn't know any better. And second, there's a lot of, "Oh shit, why didn't I think of that?" stuff that's fun to discover. The Internet is useful for that, but your local library's fiction writing section is even better.
     
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  17. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    Thanks for all the help and pointers...

    To me to be honest, its not a good feeling to actually know that there are so many things involved in writing a novel even though the desire to become a good writer is still alive in me the very fact that a reader will look at so many things was not my concern at all.

    Excuse my ignorance on this... I'm still passionate - actually to all the members who had actively replied to my posts and to those who keep giving some pointers out on other posts, I have to accept that you are sheer professionals and i'm happy to be here... a bit emotional - huh! at this point its a little too much for me as I suddenly figured yesterday after reading a member's input on filtering - Oh my god, Too many things I have missed out like Dialogue Tags, Back story, Settings, Plot, Sub-Plot and I was just wondering if a reader knows all this or he will just read a book because its interesting or unless I'm concious of all these things will I actually write a good book??? Too many things running on my mind...

    But this jus' what I wanted to know about the readers, do they really care about all the jargons or terms used in writing industry or is it for the editors? But I also thought the other way round that if they didn't care why are these things in place, Just to make things difficult for a writer?
     
  18. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    See, this is the problem as I see it. You're already feeling swamped by all the do's and don't's, and feeling intimidated by all there is to learn. Don't be. Just start writing, and get your story 'down'. All the fine tuning can be done later on.

    It's like playing football (soccer.) Very few kids start out with a full-time coach, being made to learn all the rules and regulations, followed by intense, professional instruction in how to handle a ball. Instead, they start out playing around, kicking the ball, watching how other people (friends in the playground and professionals on TV) kick the ball, developing passion for the game ...in other words they start playing. Right away. Okay they make mistakes, but as they practice they get better. And as they get better, they start learning more and more of the techniques, rules, whatever. Some of them will become good enough to be professional players. Others will become good amateur players. Others will stop playing at all after a few years.

    I can pretty much guarantee that they ALL started out this way, though. Just playing...

    Writing is the most fun you'll ever have sitting down. Enjoy yourself, and watch your story take shape. That's what's really important. Perfection comes later.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2014
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  19. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    To Quote Sol Stein, “Readers don’t notice point-of-view errors. They simply sense that the writing is bad.” So if you're asking if you have to know all that stuff the answer is hell yes. Here's the thing. Ask any reader—and a lot of hopeful writers—why they read, and the answer is, "For the story." And they mean it. But think about this: If the writing of the first page doesn't make you want to turn to page two you won't, because readers are volunteers, not conscripts. And this is true on every single page. But there's damn little story on the first page, or even in the first chapter. Instead, it's the characters living as we watch, with not all that many events happening on a given page. So if the presentation isn't entertaining; if it doesn't make us want to know what will happen next; if we don't know what the protagonist hopes/plans will happen in response to that they say and do, we won't care and won't turn the page. And that's writing, not story.

    The reason we learn the jargon is that it's the name of things we work with and must manage. A scene goal, for example, is whatever the protagonist expects to accomplish before moving on to doing something else. He or she won't be able to, though, because it's the nature of stories that things go wrong. By making the reader know the protagonist's short term goal that reader will react in the same way the character will when whatever interferes with the goal shows up. And that makes them a participant. If you can make a reader say, "Oh no...now what do we do?" you have a happy reader.

    The scene goal is just one element of a successful scene. There are many more. And if you know and understand them you take them into account without thinking about it, just as you might insert headings into a report, which is something you had to learn to do. So is it unreasonable that fiction for the printed word, a true profession, has some things that aren't obvious to the consumer and must be learned?
    We're not professionals, or even especially knowledgeable when contrasted to people who make their living by selling their fiction. My writing is making me more of a hundredaire than a millionaire. I'm pleased with the sales, but by no means a professional. And that's why I suggested you go to the pros for a quick boost and to pick up the nuts-and-bolts background. This site is one of the best around, but its value lies in meeting people who share your interest, in getting feedback on your writing, and many other things. But for learning how to write it's best to follow Holly Lisle's advice: Michaelangelo did not have a college degree, nor did Leonardo da Vinci. Thomas Edison didn't. Neither did Mark Twain (though he was granted honorary degrees in later life.) All of these people were professionals. None of them were experts. Get your education from professionals, and always avoid experts.”

    You're planning to commit to writing a novel, so we're talking about more than a few weeks work. We have people here who have been working on the same novel for years. To do a full finish edit of the kind I might do before releasing a story for either self-publishing or to submit to a publisher, I'll take a novel I've edited at least five times before and spend well over a month on it, working several hours a day. So as I said, it's a real commitment. And of course there's no guarantee that it will sell, even after all that work.

    Given that, does it not make some sense to spend a bit of time grounding yourself in the basics of scene and structure, the building blocks of fiction? If it does, capitalize the words Scene and Structure and you have the title of a book on the basics that you may be able to find in your local library. And for what it may be worth you can find a sort of lite version of what's in there in the articles in the writing section of my blog.
     
  20. vera2014
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    vera2014 Contributing Member

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    I read that having a reasonably complete main plot/story outline makes it easier to put in sub-plots. I would let exciting events drive the story forward. Don't worry about skipping a year or more. Also, I'm not a fan of prologues but that's just me.
     
  21. dannyboy
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    dannyboy Member

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    Either I'm a bad writer or I'm just not giving my 100%! One of this is true - I feel its lack of knowledge and concentration however I don't mind accepting it and correcting my flaws.... Now how do I refine my writing skills, to do that I need to know I'm wrong, my wife doesn't seem to agree with me at all and that puts me back on this forum to fetch ideas.

    I have taken most of the members advice and completed the 1st chapter in 2 days, which is a great achievement coz I never crossed page 1 for almost a week trying edit and rework.

    I opened the novel with the MC taking a ride on his motorbike, to meet his friend at the church to discuss and plan for the pilgrimage and then discuss one of an incident of the past and close chapter 1

    My wife who read this said the opening is good for a story but not for my writing, she states that its like a report of what we are doing - Report writing sort of...

    Since I'm writing it in the 1st person, I use a lot of I's which is taken care of but something new to me is dialogue tags and small setting before doalogues if necessary... How do I this? Any ideas or examples that you could help me with probably using my oepning, please... I went through filtering and that's exactly what I need, a bit more

    My wife is an English Grad however she was not interested in it she just did it for the sake of it... but she says there are so many things that she learnt that I don't implement like catchy opening statements, settings like climate, or during a bike road busy roads or many things she sited, is it necessary?

    Even though I'm asking all these questions I have not stopped writing I'm in to the second chapter and hoping to complete it in 2 days...
     
  22. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't be intimidated. The things you need to know you'll learn by writing. Studying, planning and dreaming can only take you so far. Some things you have to learn by practise, by seeing your own words on paper and figure out how to make them behave the way you want. Everyone starts out from the same point where you are right now.
     
  23. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Wow, congratulations! You really got stuck into it, didn't you? I hope you're having fun.

    Is your wife actually helping you think of ways to deal with the writing issues she's pointed out? If not, it might be a good idea to stop showing her your writing just now. Just tell her you're not 'ready' to show her any more just yet. I'm sure she means well, but it almost sounds as if she's pointing out faults without offering any solutions to them. That just undermines your confidence, and isn't really helpful. Nobody gets writing 'right' the first time.

    Any chance you might post your first chapter on the Workshop, so we can all have a look at it? We'll only be able to tailor our responses to your kind of writing, if we have it in front of us. It's hard to offer helpful suggestions to improve something we've not read.

    I wouldn't worry about 'catchy openers just yet, though. That's the sort of thing you can craft during an edit. By the time you get your entire first draft finished, you might well want a DIFFERENT kind of catchy opening anyway. So keep in mind you'll need to come up with one, but don't get stalled by the issue just now. It's important to get Chapter Two finished, then move on...

    Hope to see your chapter in the Workshop!
     
  24. Siena
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    Siena Active Member

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    Harry Potter went from year to year and that wasn't repetitive.
     

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